i’ve always had a problem with prayer.
i just don’t like the idea of a Being “up there” in the clouds listening to people as they mutter their wishes and wants and prayers, hoping all of their dreams will be fulfilled – and when they don’t get what they want, then they stop believing in that Being in the sky. i think that’s a shallow way of thinking of prayer.
a cynical approach, huh? well, unfortunately, i have run into that mindset way more often than i wish to. and i just don’t believe that’s how prayer works.
his holiness the dalai lama has gotten me thinking about prayer today… as i continue my series on the 18 rules of living, today’s has really stirred up some thoughts and emotions in me. here’s what the dalai lama has to say:
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
first off, while i do believe in a divine being, i most certainly do not think that it is a genie ready to grant us all three (or more) wishes. i also do not think the divine being is some great judge that determines who will get their wish and who will not. cuz, let’s face it, folks: some people seem to get everything, and some people tend to get crapped on. if this divine being made all of the decisions to bestow favor or heartache on people, then that is no divine being i wish to believe in – because it’s simply unfair. and i believe love is way more universal than that.
so, this whole praying thing that leads to asking for favors to be granted, or even that asks for blessings and healings, i have a hard time with. of course i believe that prayers are heard, but it’s much deeper than granting us what we want – even if what we want is noble and good, like world peace or to end poverty. prayers are heard and received.
don’t get me wrong, i pray. but, i call it meditating. i think of it as using my energy, focusing my thoughts, and sending love out and around. and, yes, i “talk” to or think of something, but it is a divine connection, a light, an energy, something that unites all humans. instead of praying words up to the sky, when i pray, or meditate, it is as if i tap into that divine energy (being) that connects us all and send all of my vibes there, hoping that they also reach the people (including myself) that i am thinking of. i also tend to think of prayer as a way to connect with this energy of love that flows among us, which empowers and inspires us to action in our lives. for me, prayer is more like contemplation. hence, i prefer the word meditation.
to make it simple, i think of it as the divine being living within and among us, instead of over and above us.
i wonder if any of this makes sense to any of you…
yes, prayers are heard and received – not necessarily by some man or woman in the sky, but they are heard and felt in our own hearts. and, yes, we send out our dreams, wishes, visions to the universe (or god, or allah, or whatever you call the divine). but, sometimes, our prayers are not answered. at least, that is what we think.
however, i’d say that our prayers (our wishes and dreams and hopes) are always answered… just not necessarily in the way that we want them to be. sometimes the universe is just silent. sometimes we feel nothing. we hear nothing. there is no inspiration. there is no clarity. only confusion. sometimes we are hurt and angry and bored. sometimes we ask and wonder and pray and meditate – and we receive nothing in return.
but, sometimes, that is exactly what we need. is it fun? hell no. is it frustrating? you betcha. but, i also have this believe that there is nowhere we can be that isn’t where we are meant to be. what i mean, is that the present moment always has potential; that we are capable of living the life of our dreams even where we are right now. it’s a matter of learning to live in the present, of living a life of gratitude and hope.
about 10 years ago, i was trying very hard to be happy. i loved my job. i was thinking about starting a family. and, at the same time, i was feeling unsettled. wishing and dreaming my life away. dreaming of the future and pining away for the past. i can most definitely say, though, that those dreams and wishes i had did not come true – at least not the way i expected them to be.
it’s a long, long story how i got from where i was at 30 to where i am at almost 40. one that i can’t tell you right now. what i can tell you, though, is that many things i wished for, that i prayed for even, did not happen.
and yet, my life has become so much more than i ever imagined that it could be. i could have never dreamed up the “answers” that i received or didn’t receive to my spoken and unspoken prayers, dreams, and wishes. most often things never, ever turned out the way that i wished or thought that they would. and, in the moment, that pissed me off. but, now, it makes perfect sense. and i am so grateful for those times of silence from the gods. those times when i felt like i was being punished, or didn’t think that i got any answers at all.
turns out, the silence was my answer. it taught me patience. and trust. the silence taught me to listen to the whispers and the signs that are only noticeable when everything is quiet.
and so, today, i do not worry as much. (yes, i do worry still). today, i know that it is not only inevitable that the silence will come once again, but i know that it is necessary to create my own silence. i know that silence is a gift. a misunderstood, confusing, and beautiful gift. i believe in the power of the universe and the presence of the energy of love, working to make all things new. and i am certain that, when there is no sound, when i feel confused, when the days seem monotonous and disconnected, it is just a cold, dark, winter. and, then i remember that after the winter, spring always returns.